Thyroid Biopsy

In this test, a sample of the thyroid gland is taken for microscopic analysis. The thyroid is a butterfly-shaped organ located in the neck that is responsible for regulating the body's metabolism. There are 2 types of thyroid biopsy: needle biopsy and open biopsy. In the first situation, a needle is introduced into the gland in order to remove a small section of the gland. In an open biopsy, a sample of thyroid tissue is removed through a surgical incision made in the skin. The needle biopsy seems to be the procedure of choice.

Patients who require a thyroid biopsy usually have had a nodule detected by a thyroid scan. The goal is to definitively diagnose a potential cancer. This test is performed most often using local anesthesia. Sedative medications given intravenously are also used.

***** REMEMBER *****

1. General anesthesia is rarely used for this procedure. However, the risk (death) associated with general anesthesia is less than 1 in 3,000.

2. There is a low risk of bleeding into the gland after the procedure. Bleeding is much less common, if the "skinny needle" is utilized.

3. Bacterial infection is a rare complication.


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